SMU Data and Models

Steel Mill Lead Times Shoot Out

Written by John Packard

Steel mill lead times on all four flat rolled products have become more extended according to those who responded to our most recent flat rolled steel market analysis. As lead times extend, steel buyers have to place more orders in order to protect their inventories. The more orders placed, the better chance for the domestic steel mills to collect higher flat rolled steel spot prices.

As our regular readers know, Steel Market Update writes articles about flat rolled steel mill lead times based on two sources: Our twice monthly surveys and directly from steel buyers who receive lead time sheets from the mills (or receive them verbally). The following article is based on the lead times collected from our latest survey which concluded on Thursday of this past week.

Hot rolled lead times are now close to averaging 4 weeks (3.79 weeks) and are approximately one half week longer than what we were reporting from our survey at the beginning of December. One year ago HRC lead times were averaging slightly less than 3 weeks (2.92 weeks).

Cold rolled lead times also moved out and are now averaging 6.71 weeks. This is almost one half a week longer than what we reported during the middle of February and almost 2 weeks longer than what we were seeing at the beginning of December 2015. One year ago lead times on CRC were reported to be averaging 4.7 weeks (2 weeks less than today).

Galvanized lead times are now averaging 7.53 weeks according to those taking our survey last week. This is a one half week jump in just two weeks and a full two week jump since early December 2015. One year ago GI lead times were reported by SMU to be averaging 4.95 weeks or two and one half weeks less than what we are seeing today.

Galvalume lead times shot out one week to 7.25 weeks since the middle of February. In early December 2015 AZ lead times were averaging 6.38 weeks. One year ago AZ lead times were reported to be 5.75 weeks or 1.5 weeks less than what we are reporting for this past week.

To see an interactive history of our Steel Mill Lead Time data, visit our website here.

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